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Customer Story - Interfile

Client-centered innovation – fitting technology to service delivery at the South African Revenue Services (SARS)

The implementation of the eFiling service by SARS has contributed to the Department’s remarkable improvement in service delivery and revenue collection performance of the last few years. The highly successful service has been in operation since July 2003 and has managed to capture 10% of the transactions it offers, with an estimated growth of 10% to 15%, month on month, is currently realised. eFiling, however, is not a straightforward success story. As service providers exploiting new technologies have learned, outstanding technological solutions are not always adopted wholeheartedly by clients. The initial implementation model, although technologically impressive and financially sound for SARS, failed because of low adoption rates. The SARS eFiling case illustrates the necessity for innovation in the public service to be dictated by service delivery imperatives. The rescuing of a worthy technological solution and its transformation into a client-centered service offering is the outstanding aspect of this instance of innovation.

Emphasis on case study



How a failed Public-Private Partnership arrangement was salvaged and revamped into a more appropriate and successful business arrangement


How a proven, but failed innovation was transformed into a client-centered and successful service delivery vehicle


Further exploration on the case study

~ The inherent benefits of providing public service offerings in an electronic format
~ The potential value of adopting commercial concepts, such as brand integrity and customer relationship management, into public service departments and agencies

The intended outcome of the case study is a transferable model for designing client-centered innovation in the public service and financing innovation through appropriate public-private partnerships.



~ A new service delivery channel
~ A failed business model
~ Rescuing the innovation
~ Benefits to SARS
~ Benefits to SARS users
~ Critical success factors


~ Service excellence
~ Brand integrity
~ Marketing and training
~ 3rd party integration


~ Contractor integration
~ Project management
~ Team cohesion
~ Performance metrics


Various marketing and promotion tactics, as well as a delighted user experience, helped create awareness and increased adoption.


~ Going paperless
~ Training
~ Customer participation
~ Assuring legal processes 
~ Streamlining processes


At the heart of future eFiling development is keeping up with the SARS back-end which is continually being improved to enhance service efficiency. The front-end needs to keep up with the back-end. This is however a symbiotic relationship where the front-end can influence the back-end operations by driving the need for certain technologies and business processes.

New developments are driven by a number of factors:

~ Listen to the market and respond to their needs – retain a customer-centric focus
~ Identify manually-operated processes that can be automated
~ Focus on projects that will realise the greatest gains per input – more bang for your buck
~ Continually improve the systems in place and stimulate uptake
~ Support the core values of the secure online payment service: reduce the client’s inconvenience, improve business processes, provide channels of choice
~ Harness technology within the framework of defined needs, not for the sake of implementing technology

It is envisaged that the services of eFiling will be replicated in other state agencies where similar
transactional-based interactions are required. In addition, open-source projects are being investigated that will afford a wider spectrum of users to access the online facilities at no or low costs. These and other projects are included in a confidential eighteen-month roadmap that will govern the implementation of the new priority focus.


~ Quarmby, S. P | Chief Executive Officer, Interfile (Pty) Ltd; 8 November 2004
~ Nangoro, M | Assistant General Manager: Business Systems South African Revenue Services | 11 November 2004

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